Artist markets are a popular way to sell your artwork and connect with your audience in real-time. I recently participated in my first artist market and it was an extremely valuable learning experience. There are many aspects to consider when preparing for an artist market so let’s look at 7 helpful tips you need to consider for the day of the event.
1. Know your target audience
It’s very important to understand the demographics of the market and tailor your art accordingly. In my art business, I offer a variety of different types of art and services. I decided to bring a little bit of everything with me to the event to take a temperature reading on what was resonating with people.
If you struggle with identifying who the audience is for your art, this can be a very valuable experiment. For example, I found that the older demographic (50+) which made up a lot of the crowd at this event was more interested in my commission work and services as opposed to stickers and prints.
2. Display your art appropriately
Set up your booth in a way that showcases your work effectively and draws in potential buyers. Although my originals were priced too high for the average person in this particular market event, having them displayed on a wall behind my table helped create a visual draw to my table. My original paintings are bright and colourful which helped create curiosity to patrons coming in from a distance.
It was also incredibly valuable to watch how people approached my table and the visual path that they took looking at everything I had set up. I made mental notes of the placement of certain things and if it made experiencing that particular item difficult.
People like to pick things up, touch them, and examine them. If your table is set up too delicately or complexly this can inhibit the experience and require you to be constantly resetting it.
It’s also important to have a good setup behind your table if you don’t have all of your stock out on display. When you’re trying to juggle running through a sale and chatting to people you want to be able to grab whatever you need quickly without shuffling through bins or boxes.
3. Offer a variety of price points
Have art available at different price points to appeal to a wider range of customers. That said, while I had a wide variety of products available at my table, most of my sales tended to fall within the lower price range. Paying attention to what type of demographic attends certain market events will help you determine this.
The experience gave me a good sense of what that particular crowd wanted to spend, but in another similar market or at a different location it might be completely different. Time of year can play a role in this as well, in that people may be more likely to spend on higher ticket items closer to the holidays.
4. Bring business cards
Make sure to have plenty of professional-looking business cards on hand to distribute to potential customers. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have some sort of free takeaway to give people. A lot of people may not remember your name after they leave – especially when you have a last name like mine!
Even if someone didn’t purchase anything I would still try to make sure that everyone I chatted with left with a postcard or business card that had my artwork and contact info on it. In the chaos of a busy market sometimes people don’t have a chance to really look at everything you have or chat with you for a long time. A free takeaway gives them something tangible to remind them to follow up with you again at a later time.
Learn More about the pros and cons of doing artist markets plus MUCH MORE in my ebook!
5. Engage with customers
Be friendly, approachable, and willing to answer questions about your art. If you have ever worked a retail job before those skills will come in handy here. I smiled, said hello, and made eye contact with everyone who came by my booth. Some people are a bit morr reseved so you also need to be able to read them within a few seconds. Sometimes I’d just say hello, let them look for a bit, and if they are still lingering make conversation about the event, or how their day is going, etc.
You don’t want to come off pushy or salesy. I like to let the customer lead that conversation if I’m sensing some hesitation in their engagement. If possible and if you are able, it’s also good to stand up. This gives the appearance that you are engaged and allows you to have conversations with people at eye level instead of them looking down at you.
On longer days when there are gaps in traffic, it’s fine to bring a sketchbook or something to keep yourself occupied but you want to give the appearance that you’re ready to chat and approachable.
6. Offer special deals or discounts
Consider offering a deal or discount to encourage customers to make a purchase. Everyone loves a deal. Having multi-buy deals will increase your UPT or units per transaction every time. There is a reason so many retail stores run BOGO sales and it’s because they work!
I had a couple of customers who took advantage of my 6-pack sticker deal which essentially would give them the discount equivalent of a free sticker. Even if they didn’t want six themselves, they would go in with a friend to still take advantage of the deal.
7. Follow up with potential customers
Collect contact information and follow up with potential customers after the market to keep them interested in your art. I had a clipboard with a place to sign up for my email list or a QR code to scan that would take them to my online opt-in page. I also had QR codes that linked to my Instagram.
Some people don’t like scanning QR codes so it’s good to have your social media handles written out as well. I also had small business cards that I printed at home with the same information that I would give to anyone who made a purchase from me or that I chatted with.
There’s a lot that goes into participating in an artist market that I haven’t covered in this post, but these tips are among the most important that you need to take into consideration. As a bonus tip, make sure that you bring enough water and snacks with you. Depending on the time of the event and how it’s structured you may not get a chance to sit down for a proper meal. It’s also a great idea to plan to have someone either helping you or coming at a certain time to allow you to take short breaks.
Overall the experience was awesome and I learned a lot about the people who like my art and what types of products resonated with the crowd that attended the event. Having a mix of my older work and some of my newer pieces was valuable in getting genuine real-time feedback as well.
I’ll be participating in a second market with the same organizers at the end of this month. I feel like my game plan has shifted and I’m better prepared to bring a selection of products and artwork that will better suit that audience. Your first market may not be perfect but if you keep a positive attitude and go in wanting primarily to learn from the experience, it’s sure to be a success.